Home World Marine Le Pen's advisor lifts lid on Brexit talks as he claims...

Marine Le Pen's advisor lifts lid on Brexit talks as he claims fishing 'not on EU agenda'


Fishing, championed by French President Emmanuel Macron, was one of the major bones of contention during the Brexit talks. Even before negotiations on the trade deal started, the French government made it clear to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier that he had to push for stronger commitments on regulatory alignments and access to UK fishing waters in return for maintaining free trade. Mr Macron said in March last year: “In no case shall our fishermen be sacrificed for Brexit.”

In the end, the two sides reached what they both described as a “mutual compromise”, which saw the UK Government settling for a five-and-a-half-year transition “during which access is fixed”.

At the end of January, France’s Minister for the Sea, Annick Girardin, reassured people in the sector they had done well out of Brexit talks – particularly in Jersey waters.

She said: “They wanted all of their waters to themselves, but we kept all of the access.”

Not everyone in France feels the same way, though.

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, French MEP Philippe Olivier argued French interests were completely overlooked during the talks, particularly when it came to fishing.

Despite Mr Macron’s high-flown rhetoric, Mr Olivier, who also serves as special advisor to National Rally party leader Marine Le Pen, said: “Germany totally dominates the EU and it really doesn’t care about the problems of fisheries…

“So when they started off with the negotiations, fishing problems were not actually taken that much into consideration.

“I am not aware of how exactly the negotiations went, but all I can say is that our interests, the interests of French fishermen were not high up on the agenda.

“It seems like with the decrease of 25 percent the deal is far from being perfect.

“It is an agreement that we hope can be changed in the future.”

Mr Olivier then noted: “This subject shows something very important and that is the agreement on fishing should have been struck directly between France and the UK.

“It shows how important bilateral relations are to get the best agreements.”

According to the head of London-based think-tank Euro Intelligence Wolfgang Munchau, Mr Macron’s rhetoric on fishing was mainly a “political move”.

He wrote: “As in the UK, the fishing industry’s economic contribution is small in France.

“Total sales were around €2bn (£1.8bn) in 2016, and OECD statistics show that less than 14,000 people were employed in the fishing sector in 2018.

JUST IN: German Chancellor admitted acting like dictator to bring in euro

“Employment in fishing has fallen by eight percent since 2011.

“But fishing, like agriculture, is symbolically important in France.

“And northern French fishermen take the majority of their catch from British waters.”

The EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that was signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU on Christmas Eve allows the bloc to keep 75 percent of the value of the fish it now catches in UK waters, with 25 percent being returned to British fishermen over the transition period.

However, an EU member state-flagged vessel has no right to fish in UK waters until a licence is issued under the new rules.

Once the licence is obtained, the vessel can sail and engage in fishing activities in British waters.

A French fisherman from Boulogne-sur-Mer, a coastal city in Northern France, has apparently been waiting three weeks for the license.

Jérémy Lhomel believes Brexit is just the straw that broke the camel’s back, as he blamed the EU for overfishing and having to depend so much on UK waters.


Barnier’s presidential bid torn apart by Le Pen’s aide [INSIGHT]
Biden’s trade war continues as EU winemakers urge for tariffs to end [REVEALED]
Merkel’s ‘EU fiscal plan’ could be scuppered by German Court [ANALYSIS]

He told Ouest France: “If there were enough resources in our waters, we would not be so dependent on those of the English. The sea here is overexploited.”

Another fisherman from Boulugne, Mathieu Pinto, is also concerned about overfishing.

He said: “The Dutch trawlers who fish with Danish seine are ruthless.

“Their technique is unstoppable.

“They have become too efficient to give the fish any chance.”

In the Pinto family, fishing is something passed on from generation to generation.

However, something has changed.

Mr Pinto noted: “My father would go fishing two hours maximum from Boulogne and bring back 300 to 400 kg of fish.

“I do a good four to five hour drive. And if I return with 150 kg I am the happiest in the world.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here